Blog - The Australia Network fiasco
Posted on Friday, 9 December 2011
This week’s Australia Network fiasco typifies the current government: incompetent, untrustworthy and hopelessly divided.
Kevin Rudd put Australia’s version of the BBC World Service out to tender and Julia Gillard has botched the process. Probity requirements were not observed and after it was twice undermined by strategic leaking, the whole process was aborted. While Kevin Rudd was out of the country and couldn’t attend Cabinet, the ABC was awarded a permanent contract for Australia Network. That’s despite two tender panels having preferred the Sky News bid. The calamitous process will likely see Sky News paid millions of dollars in compensation from taxpayers.
It’s no way to run a government and it’s no way to treat people and institutions who take the Australian government at its word – but it’s what happens when the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister don’t talk to each other and can’t work with each other. This stand-off has to be resolved if the country is to be properly governed. If that means Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd leaving the government, so be it.
This isn’t the first time their mutual hatred has compromised effective government. The Foreign Minister was excluded from the live cattle export to Indonesia disaster and has effectively opted out of the border protection shambles because he wants to distance himself from the Prime Minister’s debacle.
Since November 23, Prime Minister Gillard has given just one interview: a testy jousting match last Tuesday. It’s just not acceptable in a democracy like ours for the Prime Minister to be in hiding for a fortnight, especially since this period covers the squalid knifing of Speaker Harry Jenkins, the crisis mini-Budget, and the ALP national conference as well as the Australia Network mess.
A prime minister who was fair dinkum wouldn’t run away from questions over the promises she made to Peter Slipper, why she believes in a concept of marriage that her party has rejected, why the government’s latest budget numbers should be believed while the others have been wrong, and how it can be right to start a tender process and not finish it.
The Coalition is committed to due process. Fundamentally, we’ll make the economy stronger to help build a more cohesive society. Over time, lower government spending means lower taxes and lower borrowing with less pressure on interest rates. The first task of an economically responsible government is to live within its means. The second is to make the economy more efficient. A government with a strong on-going policy agenda is inoculated against the kind of personal poison that’s killing the current one and harming Australia.
9 December 2011